professor
Valeria Tsygankova

Dec 2020

I do not think that professor Tsygankova is as bad as some of the reviews make her out to be. She isn't a "heartless robot", just more of an introverted writer type. For me, her UW section was just kind of boring. She would talk and lecture for large portions of class, and sometimes put you into breakout rooms and leave you to do an activity in the class google doc for a while. Attempts at discussions usually resulted in her asking a question, nobody answering for 30 seconds, someone saying a sentence to break the silence, and then her talking for 5 minutes. While she wasn't super engaging, the content of her lectures was overall pretty good, and she did actually teach me to become a way better writer. Also, her written feedback on drafts/final essays is very useful/informative, although for smaller assignments, her feedback looks like some heavy copy/paste action. It is true that sometimes, that introverted nature can make itself apparent. In office hours/conferences, she could sometimes initially seem like she didn't want to talk to you. However, if you ignored those vibes and kept asking her things and got her into it a bit, she would give you some actually useful advice/information, and would sometimes follow up afterwards with an email with even more useful information. I could see someone with more of a timid personality having trouble doing this, though, so if that's you, just write her an email. As far as grading goes, she doesn't grade easy, but it isn't super unfair. Overall, she wasn't really as bad as some of these reviews claim (at least for me). While I wouldn't actively seek her out as a professor, if you get her/have to take her section, it really isn't the end of the world.

Aug 2020

I did not enjoy having this professor. She takes her job way too seriously. You're teaching a mandatory english class for first years—please be more accommodating.

Apr 2020

I'm not sure why everyone has such harsh reviews for Professor Tsygankova -- she isn't perfect, but it's a good class. The justice readings are fascinating and (most of) the nightly assignments are pretty helpful. She's an approachable and helpful teacher. I have this class in Spring 2020, but before everything went Pass/Fail, I thought the grading was very fair. It isn't easy, per se, but it certainly isn't as difficult as some reviews make it out to be. She's also been really flexible and kind during the coronavirus weirdness, which speaks well of her. The one thing that I do agree with from past reviews is the length of the readings. It is a bit much. I really enjoyed the justice readings, but the readings about writing were less helpful and could be quite lengthy. If you're not interested in really delving into writing & ideas of justice, you're better off in another section, most of which are easier/less work than this one.

Nov 2018

If you can get out of this section, do so! Professor Tsygankova is a heartless robot. Everything she does points towards the idea that she might be nice and caring. Unfortunately, this facade is quickly uncovered. As soon as you seek for help or ask for necessary favors, she will turn you down and make you feel like you are a failure. That is without mentioning her uselessly harsh grading... All in all, had I known transferring out was a thing freshman year, I would have paid cash to do that. Too little, too late

Mar 2018

If you want to enjoy Lit Hum, transfer from this section or you will suffer. At first, Professor Tsygankova seems like a very nice person that cares for you. However, her deceptive personality will shatter you to your core. Indeed, Professor Tsygankova will act very kindly in class but outside of class, she will be cold and distant. It seems to me like she does not care about her students well-being nor what they go through during their time at Columbia. If you desperately need an extension, she will not grant it. Also, grading is as harsh as it gets. If you feel like you have written the best essay of your academic career, don't expect anything higher than a B because it is an excellent grade!!!

Dec 2017

Tsygankova is an intelligent, nice, and intimidating professor all at the same time. This is the deadliest combination ever, which resulted in lit hum being one of my hardest--yet one of the most beneficial--courses I took at Columbia. She truly supports a seminar-style class, where she almost talks little-to-none except for opening the conversation and directing what we should be discussing. Other than that, she leaves the room for the class to bring up new ideas, discuss and challenge them, polish them, and arrive at conclusions, all without her intervention. She also maintains the discussion to be heavily text-based; meaning no speculation and broad generalization about human nature, etc..but rather discussions about ideas born within the texts we read. Tsygankova is a very nice and friendly person. She would occasionally bring sweets and snacks to class, and she makes some delicious banana bread. Whenever you would suggest a discussion point, she truly encourages you and makes you more confident contributing to the discussions. On the other hand, she is an extremely harsh grader, which has its ups and downs. On one hand, you will have to work really hard to earn one of those B+ essays, but you'll find your level improving at an incredible rate.

Aug 2015

Ms. Tsygankova seems to be a very nice person, and in class, she basically tells everyone that they have a good point when they contribute ideas during discussion. Now this is definitely very encouraging (better than teachers who shut your ideas down), but her persona seems to be totally different when she's writing to you - whether it's through email, feedback, or even in the syllabus. She's a friendly person and easy to talk to, but just a lot harsher in her written comments, so be prepared for that. This isn't to say that she's an unfair grader - I think she's definitely strict with her grading, and she expects you to get through some very dense readings, but I don't think her reasoning for her grades are necessarily unjustified. However, I did find it difficult sometimes to understand what exactly she wanted from me, or what she wanted me to do to fix my writing. She would point out that I was doing something wrong, but I often found myself wishing she could give me more advice on how to fix it. Some papers that she made us read had interesting topics, but the papers we had to write for U-Writing were a pain-in-the-butt (not really her fault though). Ms. Tsygankova's not a bad teacher to have - she's not life-changing or anything, but you won't die if you have her.

Apr 2015

Valeria provides very helpful constructive criticism, but is a harsh grader. Most of the people in our UWriting American Studies class complained that she didn't tend to give out As. Basically everyone I know got some form of a B, which I suppose is fair, but a little annoying when a lot of your fellow freshmen in UWriting talk about how they do no work and get As. This class has a lot of work, and I believe Valeria states in her syllabus that if you get an A in the class it means your work is worthy of being published.

Jan 2015

Professor Tsygankova is an amazing teacher and a fair grader. She will put in a lot of effort into helping you with your writing and is very responsive on email. She will read all of your homeworks, but they are not graded. In terms of grading, she offers an extra credit assignment -- attending and writing a short essay on any presentation given by faculty at Columbia. She also offers a revision of Progression 1 or 2, for a completely new grade. If you struggle at first in her class, don't worry because she will do everything she can to improve your writing and give you a fair grade in the end. She clearly cares a lot about the course and will try and encourage discussion, but at times has difficulty encouraging seminar discussion, but this may also be because I took a section that started at 8:40 in the morning. She also has a great sense of humor and will bring some sweets/pastries after each progression!